Toledo Station to Observe 65th Anniversary

Toledo Central Union Terminal will mark its 65th anniversary today with a ceremony and exhibits.

Speakers at the ceremony will include Toledo-Lucas County Port President Paul Toth and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur.

The event will run from 5 to 8 p.m., with refreshments being served. Among the planned exhibits and guests are:

  • Byron “Barney” Stickles, a former terminal agent and telegrapher with the Wabash Railroad, one of the four carriers using the station when it opened.
  • The Toledo History Museum and Steve Rathke, a current railroad engineer, both showing items from Central Union Terminal memorabilia collections.
  • The Northwest Ohio Passenger Rail Association, with information about efforts to promote passenger rail in the region.
  • The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, with an exhibit about rail labor past and present.
  • Railroad artist Gary Cornell.
  • An exhibit of photographs from the archives of The Blade — the daily newspaper in Toledo — of  the dedication ceremony held on Sept. 22, 1950.
  • Model trains depicting the four railroads that served the station when it opened, including the Wabash, Baltimore & Ohio, Chesapeake & Ohio and New York Central.

“It’s important to discuss the history of passenger trains, as well as the future of passenger trains and the importance of rail in our community,” said Holly Kemler, the port authority’s communications manager.

Toledo Central Union Terminal was built by the New York Central and turned out to be the last major urban railroad station built by a private railroad in the United States.

At the time that it opened, the terminal served more than four dozen trains. Today four Amtrak trains use the facility.

Also using the terminal are local transit system buses and intercity buses that connect with Amtrak trains. In spring 2016, Greyhound bus lines will begin using the facility, which since 2001 has been named Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza.

After Amtrak took over most of the nation’s intercity passenger trains on May 1, 1971, the station was idle.

A short-lived Chicago-New York train began shortly after Amtrak began, but was discontinued in early January 1972 after the states along the route failed to come up with money to underwrite the route’s losses.

Amtrak returned in Toledo in October 1975 when the Lake Shore Limited began operating between Chicago and New York/Boston. Amtrak’s Chicago-Washington, D.C., Capitol Limited also serves the station.

During the 1980s and early 1990s, Amtrak had a Chicago-Toledo train via Detroit named the Lake Cities.

During the Amtrak era, Central Union Terminal continued to serve as a division headquarters for Penn Central and then Conrail.

After moving its offices out of the building in 1995, Conrail sold the terminal to the port authority for $23,000.

The port authority spent $5.5 million to renovate the terminal, which had a grand reopening on Sept. 22, 1996.

At one point, the port authority had to talk Amtrak out of abandoning the facility for a smaller station in Toledo.

Although the renovation of the terminal included bus bays on the west side of the building for Greyhound, that company refused to use them.

Greyhound said it didn’t want to break its lease for its current station at 811 Jefferson Ave. and company practice prohibits backing out of a bus bay and onto a busy street, as it would need to do.

When Greyhound begins using the terminal, its buses will stop along Emerald Avenue in front of the station.

Greyhound currently has 25 daily bus departures for Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus and Indianapolis.

The addition of Greyhound will mean activity in a facility that is closed between mid-morning and late afternoon.

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